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History of American Technology
Section 1, Spring 2013

Instructor: Prof. Pamela E. Mack
Office: Hardin 006, e-mail: pammack@clemson.edu
Office Hours: MW 10-11:30, Wed. 1:15-2:15 pm and by appointment
Class meetings: MWF 9:05-9:55, Hardin 233
this syllabus on the web: http://www.clemson.edu/caah/history/FacultyPages/PamMack/syl323.html

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course is a sampling of the history of American technology from colonial
times to the present. The goal of the course is to think about the role of technological change in society with
the help of the broader perspective that history provides. To that end, the course will not cover evolution of
every significant technology, but rather will focus on different views of technology and discuss in detail
selected case studies.

STUDENT LEARNING OUTCOMES: By the end of the course students should be able to:
Demonstrate an understanding of issues created by the complex interactions among science,
technology, and society
examine the role of technology in history
evaluate the impact of technology on society and how society shapes technology
analyze the different approaches taken by historians
write analytically on topics related to these objectives

COURSE REQUIREMENTS: Analyzing and drawing conclusions from the reading will be central to the
course, so it is essential that you do the reading and come prepared to discuss it in class. Attendance will be
taken by seating chart and six absences will be allowed without penalty. Coming late or leaving early will
count as one half an absence. Excuses do not have to be given for the six allowed absences, but it is expected
that these will cover scheduled events (including extracurricular activities in most cases) and minor illnesses.
Additional absences will be excused for official university activities, emergencies, serious illness, or funerals.
Students with more than six absences will be penalized 3 points for every additional absence on their final
grade for the course. The class is excused if the instructor does not arrive within 10 minutes of the scheduled
starting time.
Numerical grades out of 100 will be converted to final letter grades by the system 90-100=A, 80-89=B,
70-79=C, 60-69=D, below 60=F. Grades above 95 are rarely given except for exceptionally fine work.

PARTICIPATION ASSIGNMENTS: You can earn points for participation assignments in a variety of ways.
These will be defined as the semester progresses, but they will include short reflections on the readings
submitted before class, attending a lecture and submitting a writeup, and class presentations on topics of
interest to students.

ACADEMIC INTEGRITY: As members of the Clemson University community, we have inherited Thomas
Green Clemson's vision of this institution as a "high seminary of learning." Fundamental to this vision is a
mutual commitment to truthfulness, honor, and responsibility, without which we cannot earn the trust and
respect of others. Furthermore, we recognize that academic dishonesty detracts from the value of a Clemson
degree. Therefore, we shall not tolerate lying, cheating, or stealing in any form. 

This includes representing someone else's work as your own or handing in the same paper to two different
courses without permission of the instructors. Be careful to avoid plagiarism--text you take from a web site,
from a book, or from the online class notes must be either quoted with the source given or restated almost
entirely in your own words, with the source given. Note that the catalog defines as one form of academic
dishonesty: "Plagiarism, which includes the intentional or unintentional copying of language, structure, or
ideas of another and attributing the work to one’s own efforts." Note the word unintentional--if you forget to
put quote marks or a reference you can be found guilty of academic dishonesty even if it was not your
intention to cheat.

It is cheating to cut and paste or otherwise copy portions of a argument paper, exam, or discussion board
posting from a book, web site, or from the online class notes, even if you change a few words, unless you
quote and give the source. It is poor writing for more than about 20% of your paper to consist of quotes. In
most cases when you use specific material from any source you should paraphrase: cite the source and put
the ideas into you own words (generally no more than 5 consecutive words should match the source but if
the words are mostly the same it could still be plagiarism even if there aren't 5 consecutive words).

LAPTOPS AND CELL PHONES: Use of laptops, tablets and cell phones during class for purposes not
related to this course is disrespectful to the instructor and distracting to other students. You may use your
devices to take notes during class or to look up further information on a topic being discussed. Students using
their devices during class may be called on to share what they are learning with the rest of the class.

TEXTS: Four required books are available in the bookstore:
Melosi, Martin V. The Sanitary City: Environmental Services in Urban America from Colonial Times
to the Present. Abridged. University of Pittsburgh Press, 2008. (make sure to get the 2008 abridged
edition, ISBN 0822959836)
David E. Nye. America as Second Creation: Technology and Narratives of New Beginnings. MIT
Press, 2004.
Ronald R Kline. Consumers in the country: technology and social change in rural America.
Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000
Kevin L. Borg. Auto mechanics: Technology and Expertise in Twentieth-Century America . Baltimore,
MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010

SCHEDULE: Readings are listed under each lecture or discussion topic.  Underlined lecture titles are links that lead to notes.

hand out syllabus, introduction
Read Melosi intro-2
Melosi 3-5
optional lecture (participation assignment) on the future of the book, Strom Thurmond Auditorium, 1:30 pm
Melosi 6-9
Melosi 10-11
optional lecture (participation assignment) on regulating nuclear power, Bracket 100, 2:30 pm
MLK Holiday--no class
Melosi 12-13
Melosi 14-16
Melosi 17-19
Melosi 20-epilogue
optional lecture on morality and climate change, Hardin 232, 4:50-5:30 pm
Feb.  1
Nye intro, paper 1 due
Nye 1-2
Nye 3
Nye 4

Nye 5
Nye 6
Nye 7
Nye 8 and film The Greatest Good: A Forest Service Centennial Film
Nye 9
Nye 10
Nye 11 and Conclusion
in class test
Mar.  1
Kline intro & 1
Kline 2 (survey due--found in the reading responses tab)
optional lecture on Economic Crisis/Environmental Crisis, rescheduled for Wed 6:30 pm Brackett 120
Kline 3
optional lecture on local food by Philip Ackerman-Leist,6:30 pm Strom Thurmond Auditorium
Kline 4
Kline 5
Kline 6
Kline 7
Spring Break: No Class 
Kline 8
Kline 9
Kline conclusion
Apr. 1
Borg introduction, paper 2 due
Borg 1
Borg 2

No class.  Special assignment on Borg 3 is available under Discussions in Blackboard
Borg 4.  Class will meet.  Blackboard is down so the deadline for the reading response will be extended.
Borg 5
Borg 6
Borg 7
optional movie on TV, Green Fire on PBS at 10 pm (on Aldo Leopold and environmental ethics)
Borg conclusion
optional lecture on inequality and development around the world, 1:30-3:30 pm, Strom Thurmond Institute Auditorium
applications--role of government
applications--narratives and technology
applications--role of consumers
May   3
10:30 am takehome final exam due.  Topic:  Discuss one or two notable questions that historians ask about the past, using Borg and
one of the other books we read in this course.  Do these questions tell us anything useful about how to understand the growth and impact of technology today?
Same expectations as the other papers.

This page written and copyright © Pamela E. Mack
Send me e-mail at: Pammack@clemson.edu
For my other pages see:  PEM Index Page
last updated 3/6/2013